Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [26th June], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the proposal to pass a permanent law, requiring that in order to prevent the introduction of the
Cattle Plague into this Country from abroad, all foreign cattle and other animals imported into the Port of London shall be landed at one prescribed spot, and shall not be removed thence alive, ought not to be considered apart from the general policy of imposing legal restrictions on the foreign cattle trade in other ports of the United Kingdom,"—(Mr. Milner Gibson,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ * MR. CORRANCE
During the long and able address of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Milner Gibson), he referred to me as one partially responsible for the Bill which is now before the House. He has some right to do so, I admit; for on several occasions I have both urged its adoption, and advocated the principle upon which it rests. At the commencement of this Session I expressed my satisfaction at its introduction, in a paragraph in the Queen's Speech. Upon Committee I have given its main provisions my support, both personally and as President of one of those Chambers to which he alludes, he asks me to show cause for this in my place. As far as my humble powers go, he shall have no cause to complain of my reticence in such respect. Nevertheless, in re-opening a debate of so much importance, there are some considerations which press upon me with unusual weight. It seems to me that I have undertaken too much, at least if it is held necessary that I should follow in detail all the arguments the hon. Member has put forth. The ground he covered was immense—Spain, France, Portugal, Denmark and Barking Creek, with accompanying statistics, facts and figures appropriate to each. The right hon. Member for the City of London tells us that a lengthy statement must be answered at length. Why then I pity the House; but, as far as I am concerned, let the House be re-assured my remarks on each topic shall be brief. I shall impose limits on myself. I will not go to Spain or Portugal, or Denmark, or Barking Creek. I will not go into the details of this Bill, nor follow my right hon. Friend into the technical objections he takes. I leave this to more able hands than myself. It is always more pleasant to agree than to differ with my right hon. Friend, and I do agree with him up to a certain point. What is the nature of the Amendment he makes? He affirms a 612 principle from which I do not dissent—that all legislation upon this matter should be of a general and comprehensive class. Well, is it not so up to this point? Why this is the view I have always held, and which I advocated last year in this House. Let us look back. In pursuance of this principle, I urged the adoption of the slaughter clause at all the ports, which by an act of Privy Council was carried out. In accordance with this principle the restrictions then existing upon the home traffic was relaxed, to the immediate benefit of the consumers of meat. The separation of the metropolitan market was urged to the same effect, and this again to be followed by other measures of a consistent class. But the right hon. Gentleman is not satisfied with this, and he wants legislation of a more comprehensive class, not consecutive measures such as this. Now, our differences begin at that point. Does he really think that we could carry such a measure as this, and can he really throw much blame upon Government for this? The right hon. Member was part of an Administration once; and what took place? A few years since our cattle were dying by scores; meat at famine price; farmers at their wits end; consumers un-consuming; and what took place? If my memory serves me Her Majesty's Government preserved a most majestic attitude, but they did not move in the least. It was a vindication of a great policy, a policy which had a French name. Is this the policy the right hon. Member admires? He did not explain himself quite fully upon that point. The laissez faire did not cure the plague nevertheless. I will not impute it as a fault, for it is, and must be, as far as I can see, a characteristic of the legislation of this House, and Government, such as ours, cannot move until public opinion is expressed. In this then the right hon. Gentleman has blamed the action of the Government, rashly as I think; and there is some heedless rhetoric even on that side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman may see the errors of that course, but that he himself would take such prompt and decisive measures is what, from these antecedents, I should not expect. But, if such be the case, what next? What is the next step upon our path? A separate market we think. I leave the question of the absolute slaughter apart, and whether this should be discontinued or not. The necessity is certainly very great. Without it no effectual 613 precaution; no good inspection; no quarantine; and lastly, no relaxation of the present restriction can be carried out, safely at least. Surely, it should form part of those complete arrangements you hope to carry out. The reasons against it do not seem to me to possess much weight. If there is difficulty in passing this law, much more so the complete measure of the right hon. Member. Who could get such a Bill through this House? The Select Committee would last several years, and no room in this House would hold the counsel for the defence. You would have deputations several miles long, and Parliament Street under blockade from morning until night. I am aware that there are inconveniences to this partial or consecutive form of legislation; we had an instance not long since. The Government in compliance with the great pressure put upon them by the hon. Member and his Friends on that side of the House, as he says—for I do not say so, mark that—the Government prematurely, as I think, made some relaxation in respect to certain stock—Spanish and Portuguese. Well, what took place? It was found to give an advantage to land borne stock, and difficulties sprung up. This I foresaw from the first. Of this the light hon. Gentleman takes advantage at once, though with some scruples of conscience I should think. If Her Majesty's Ministers will profit by the use made of such a concession it will act as a warning, no doubt. But in connection I with such a measure, my right hon. Friend has really stated a remarkable fact, I mean, what would be inserted in the papers as a remarkable fact along with the big turnip, of course. He tells us that in Manchester and Birmingham it has rained ribs of beef ever since. [An hon. MEMBER: He says "cattle."] Well, that is more remarkable, of course; but for the euphony, I like ribs of beef, if he will permit me for this once:—that may account for the drought. All the rain has turned to ribs of beef. Where on earth could they have come from? Not from Spain or Portugal, without doubt, for the Returns are before us as to that—about 3,000 head into Liverpool during the year. Why, that would not make one moderate shower of beef-steaks. But it has been raining ribs of beef, we are assured of that; and the action of Her Majesty's Government has been the cause of this—we gather that fact, at least. This is one of those acts for which the discretion of the Privy Council ought to be praised 614 according to the theory the right hon. Gentleman has put forth. Does he praise them for this? Why, he does not scruple to say that it is an electioneering trick—raining ribs of beef. Well, I do not wonder at his discomfiture at such a trick as this for an adversary to possess. It outdoes Houdin, and beats Mr. Home outright. There is something substantial about this; and if Her Majesty's Government should exercise this art, put in gentle showers of this sort about Christmas next. I think we shall know what sort of a Parliament to expect. There will not be a Radical returned to this House, and, I am afraid, some very moderate Whigs at best. But is it not just possible that the right hon. Gentleman has been drawing upon his imagination just a little. I, at least, must think so upon one point; and if it has been raining ribs of beef, Her Majesty's Government have shown themselves very weather wise in such respects. I give them full credit for this, while, I doubt, with a view to the present measure, the expediency of the act. Now, let me turn to an argument my right hon. Friend has much pressed—namely, the wisdom and policy of leaving an irresponsible power in the hands of the Privy Council in matters of this class. We have had some experience of government of this sort, and we like government by Acts of Parliament best. Why, what is our experience of this sort of government, and to what has it led? Let us look back a little for this. My right hon. Friend may remember something of this. At a time of a most critical kind it resisted every evidence and advice, scientific and practical alike. Supported by the urban Press, it defied alike science and common sense, and we know the rest. That it was not until scourged by an intolerable and widely-spread plague, and threatened by a famine which reached to these gates that it accorded aught. Nor, indeed, was it until the advent of a new Administration that a real change in its policy took place. Happily for this country that it did so, for let me ask him, and right hon. Members to reflect upon the consequences, had this scourge continued during one more year with wheat at 70s., and the distress of the poorer class increased by it, and who can doubt that, had the Privy Council had its way, this would have been the case? The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to France, and he now recommends us to imitate a policy which is not that of laissez faire—at least, an 615 admirable system no doubt, and followed by an admirable result. Well, once more, let me recall the memory of the right hon. Gentleman to anterior facts. Does my hon. Friend recollect a correspondence with my humble self upon this—writing to him as President of the Board of Trade—as President of a simple "Farmer's Club?" Well, I have copies of these, and their purport is that 1 called upon the President of the Board of Trade to consider the question from the stand-point of France. I urged imitation of that system, and the appointment of a Minister of Agriculture like Mr. Behic, and provincial newspapers called me a modest man, and they were right; but it seems that I was right, too, nevertheless, and it commands the right hon. Gentleman's consent. I have considered the matter well since, and I have come to the conclusion that under Privy Council government that system could not be carried out, though it could under Mr. Behicand the Emperor of France. The difference must at nil times be, that we have no Emperor and we have no Mr. Behic. There is no superior power there to over-rule and meddle and muddle everything it has the misfortune to touch. Here there are several such. Under what influence does the Privy Council act? Under what pressure from without? What has been imputed to it by the right hon. Gentleman himself as a cause for this last Order respecting Portuguese stock? Is there anything to inspire respect in this? Nor, Sir, let me say plainly, does confidence exist? I will not impute it as a fault that a French system cannot be carried out,—we lack every element of success. The high and irresponsible authority, which sets mere selfish suggestions at naught, the skilled official, the aptitude for management, and the patience to endure—all these are wanting to us. But the right hon. Gentleman has complained that no scientific evidence was brought before the Committee by the promoters of this Bill. What is it that the right hon. Gentleman wants? I know that until very lately he had doubts upon a very vital point—namely, the specific origin of this disease. This is an important point. But upon what grounds does the right hon. Gentleman doubt? To us, who are less sceptically minded, the demonstration amounts to proof. In favour of it we have not only the opinions of all our best veterinarians, but the united testimony of all Europe on its behalf. In that great 616 European Congress held at Hamburg in 1863, out of nearly 200 veterinarians, there was not a dissentient voice. Nay, the President, Professor Zugger, speaks thus—Rinderpest is not a disease of to-day. It is an old disease, and when we deliberate upon its prevention or limitation, we must not forget its history. And what does that history prove? It proves that the malady spreads as a contagious disease over the West and South of Europe, coming from the East, and this happens always at a time when learned men start the question. Does rinderpest really spread by means of a contagion, or does it not? Does it develop primarily? And when this question, emanating from learned men, excited attention in any country, it was always a misfortune for that country, France, Holland, and England can testify to this.Now, we, at least, do not want any further demonstration than that which we have so dearly bought, and we can very well dispense with any further doubts of learned men. But the next argument is this. That what we as agriculturalists want, is a gigantic system of Protection for our cattle, similar to that we had for corn. And on this what evidence is adduced? That of Sir James Elphinstone, who says that the present drawback upon Scotch cattle amounts to as much as £2 per head. Well, with the accuracy of his calculation we have little to do; let us assume it to be a fact. Does it at all prove that the consumer would be taxed to this amount? For this is what is said—"Why, it is so much dearer, no doubt, to him. If by any means you reduce the profit of an article to the producer, do you think he will produce at a loss, especially when the reduction is caused by artificial means?" The consumer pays for it, no doubt, and even on the foreign stock, the price of which will be thus artificially enhanced. It acts as a protective duty to him unless he labours under similar disadvantages, and then the consumer pays for both at the increased rate. Well, this is not Free Trade? But "what is Free Trade?" I may at this time, at least, be asked. I will be very plain upon this point. Upon a former occasion the right hon. Member for South Lancashire taunted us. He said that we never lost an occasion of nibbling at this. Now, I will, at least, on the present occasion, leave him no occasion to say so. We are not apt at explanation, and we find it better to call a spade a spade than an agricultural implement, which also might be a rake. What is this Free Trade, of the honour of which right hon. Gentlemen are so susceptible. I say it is time to ask, what is this watchword, or 617 catchword, which we hear from so many lips? All claim it alike. We do know what it has meant, in some cases at least. Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman this—applied to Ireland, did it mean Irish depopulation, and that Fenianism which follows upon its wake, to which you offer up the Irish Church? Some facts would lead us to suppose this. Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this. In 1660 you passed a law prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle into England, and the land went to tillage, of course. In 1690 you placed 4s. additional duty upon every 20s. worth of broadcloth exported. So sheep and woollen manufactures go out. By 10 Will. III. you put 2s. on serge and baize and kersey. And a little later, by 3 & 4 Anne, you smite the linen trade with a prohibitory law. In 1848 you tell the same people to compete with the whole world in what they like. Now is that Free Trade? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me so? Then it is not (thus applied) a principle I can accept. Once more, does it mean unchecked monopoly and selfishness? Does it mean cattle plague? Does it mean the sale of Alabamas? We have heard it claimed for each. Does it mean the free enjoyment of vice and misery and dirt? Then it is a principle I do not nibble at—I do not accept. If the right hon. Gentleman deign to reply, let him answer this. If not let him once more appeal to popular ignorance and stamp out the doubt. And let him also reply to a greater than I am in this House, who in answer to his imputation at that very time spoke thus—In my right hon. Friend's mind political economy seems to stand for a set of practical maxims. It is not a science. It is not a theory of the manner in which causes produce effects. It is a set of practical rules, and these practical rules are indefeasible. Now, so far from being a set of rules to be applied without regard for times, or places, or circumstances, the function of political economy is to enable us to find the rules which ought to govern any state of circumstances with which we have to deal, which are never the same in any two cases. My right hon. Friend has been very plain spoken, and I will be plain spoken too. Political economy has many enemies, but its worst enemies are its friends. It is such modes of argument as this that has made political economy so thoroughly unpopular with a large and not the least philanthropic portion of the people of England. In my hon. Friend's mind political economy seems to exist as a bar, even to the fair consideration of anything that is proposed for the benefit of the economic condition of any people, in any but the old ways.I place the quotation unreservedly at the 618 disposal of that Bench, and if its wisdom is recognized it may save us from some future mishaps. But if this is not Protection, is it starvation of the poorer class? The argument has been much pressed, and a learned Counsel was very eloquent upon this, but most deficient in proof. Why, turn to evidence, and to what does it amount. Who want to feed the poorer classes, and by what means? Well, we are told—that brought and driven through narrow and crowded streets to the abomination of the abattoirs reeking in our midst, they are slaughtered, and sold—to whom?—the poorer classes? Well to the Jew middleman first, and then, through such philanthropic hands, finally sold to the poorer class, with a second and third profit, no doubt. I can claim some sympathy with the poorer class, but not of this sort. Nor do I quite believe in a dispensation to which a Jew salesman administers after this sort. Otherwise the argument is self I destructive, for if foreign stock is not imported, it will be because home stock is too cheap, and the argument that the poorer classes will buy foreign meat—in the first place because it is dearer, and the second place because it is bad—will not hold good. At any rate my sympathies do not extend to this. The learned Counsel was eloquent, I admit, and he has published his speech, and some hon. Members have read it, no doubt. Well, he did not convince me, I confess; first, because I thought that perhaps he mistook his audience; and, secondly, because he did not, in my humble judgment, prove his case. Nor, if I am permitted to say so, did the right hon. Gentleman, who has urged this with so much ability upon this House? I have, I feel, trespassed too long upon the House; but I think it will be admitted that I have not done so needlessly, if due I allowance be made for the number and variety of the arguments I have had to meet. One only remains—the consumers' interest in this. There can be but one rational opinion, that as far as he is concerned all restrictions are bad. Nothing but dire necessity can justify them in any case. He pays for trouble and risk and loss. This sealed London market and restricted traffic are at his cost. But, he also pays for cattle plagues of all sorts. Is this clearly understood? I must think not. Why, what has been proposed in this case? That if a foreign cattle market is put under certain restrictions for a certain purpose, the same should also apply 619 to another market where no such necessity exists. Why, what sort of legislation is this? Is the consumer interested? Let me, at least, ask this. My right hon. Friend does not, of course, agree to it. He has more justly assumed that our object must be rather to relax in every possible way. But there is only one way in which this would be possible and safe. Separate the market for foreign stock. The right hon. Gentleman wants to maintain the present system, until it shall be possible to carry out the complete system he suggests. Now, let my right hon. Friend remember this, that he cannot do so if he would, no, not—should this Bill drop—for six weeks. Consumers and producers will make common cause, and sweep away this system, especially since the admission of foreign stock. It is a grave responsibility you sock, you who would defeat this scheme. With the relaxation will come the disease and fresh distress, and it will be with consumers you will have to settle accounts. With wheat at 70s. and harvest doubtful as yet, dare you face the winter thus? I speak for the poorer class. Under your system of government we have suffered much. You call our attention to France. There may come a time when wearied with your delays, your war of parties, your needless exertions and self-inflicted ills, the people of this country may indeed look to France, and remembering the advice you now give, may seek protection in the sense of immunity from needless evils, in the policy of Imperial France.
said, he had listened with great concern to the closing sentences of the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Corrance's) speech, and it astounded him not a little to hear one, who rose as the representative of what was termed the agricultural interest, assuming the attitude of a suffering and persecuted man. What had he suffered? He had suffered the abstraction of the power of supporting his own industry at; the expense of others, and had also experienced the great evil of obtaining under; the influence of free competition a higher range of prices for almost every production in which he was interested than the system of Protection afforded. The matter of the Bill was complicated enough in itself, so I that there was no need to embarrass its consideration still further by attempts to revive the animosities of a by-gone controversy. At the close of the Session they were just at the beginning of the discussion of the details of a Bill involving considera 620 tions of the most complicated and obscure character, and which were hardly to be despatched without endless controversy, The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council who, judging from the state of the I Treasury Bench, appeared to be the sole representative of the Government upon this measure, had in his very animated speech the other day left out of view two fundamental considerations, without a clear understanding as to which it would be impossible to entertain such a measure. He would not accuse hon. Gentlemen opposite, notwithstanding the provocation which their language seemed to offer, of the intention to return to Protection under the veil of an enactment of this kind; but he could not forget that the noble Lord had expressed his entire condemnation of the foreign cattle trade, and in the corrected copy of the noble Lord's speech which was now before him, the noble Lord assumed that a certain group of diseases had been imported by means of foreign cattle, and that the loss resulting from those diseases was greater than the aggregate value of the cattle imported. The noble Lord also assumed that a wholesale system of contraband was carried on to enable the butchers to pass off foreign meat as British, to the injury of the consumers. Finally, the noble Lord complained of the good old lamp of 1842 having been exchanged for the lackered lantern brought to us by the stranger—this good old lamp being, no doubt, the exclusive privilege for the benefit of the British agriculturist of supplying not only the markets of London but all the markets of the country. The object of such representations could not be mistaken—it was to describe as a calamity the removal of prohibitions and the introduction of foreign cattle. But he drew a broad distinction between this part of the noble Lord's speech and that in which he discussed the restrictions upon British cattle which were now in force. He was bound to say that as regards one portion of his argument on that head—namely, with respect to the present extent of the metropolitan district, it appeared unanswerable. With regard to those restrictions generally he did not presume to give any opinion whether they could with safety be removed. He would venture to say he had but little faith in them, and but a feeble conviction of their necessity. He had a strong sympathy with the agriculturists so long as the tendency of their arguments was only to demand that the restrictions on themselves should 621 be brought to the minimum consistent with the public welfare; but the current altogether turned when they began to urge demands for restrictions, for which the necessity had not been shown, upon the importation of foreign cattle. There were two branches of this question on which the speech of the noble Lord did not contain a single word, but which, nevertheless, were vital to its due consideration. The first of these was, why should they depart from the basis of the present system—a system under which the responsible Ministers of the Crown considered from time to time what restrictions were or were not necessary either in respect of foreign or British cattle? The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down said they had already had enough of the Privy Council; but if that was so, this Bill was not the proper mode of applying a remedy. The proper mode would be to fall back on the Motion proposed by his right hon. Friend near him (Mr. Milner Gibson). He laid down a proposition which it was difficult to dispute—that it was premature, at the very least, to pass a law such as that for London, without taking into consideration the policy they ought to pursue of imposing statutory restrictions on the cattle trade in other parts of the United Kingdom. His own belief was that that view of the case was insurmountable, both in argument and in common sense, and that this Bill as it stood was not fit to be carried into law. In a case of this kind the argument in favour of working by the instrument of a large discretion in the Executive rather than by rigid, stereotyped, statutory restrictions was obvious and strong. That was a state of things exceedingly appropriate, considering the present state of our knowledge and experience with regard to cattle diseases. It was very easy to assume that the cattle plague was imported from abroad—but how? By the bodies of foreign cattle, and by them exclusively, or by other means, by persons whose contact with them was close and immediate? The opinion of many was that the cattle plague was imported by the last of these means. That was the opinion with regard to its importation into Ireland. There was no proof that the exclusive communication of the cattle plague was by the movement of the bodies of cattle. How did the cattle plague in Aberdeenshire leap over a space of twenty—or as some said thirty—miles? It was not in that instance communicated by the movement of cattle. In that state 622 of things two matters appeared to be perfectly clear. One was that the greatest vigilance should be exercised by the Government in watching the state of affairs in foreign countries and restricting or stopping importation from ports suspected. The other was that wherever the mischief appeared the most stringent measures should be applied for restricting the evil. Other restrictions, it appeared to him, should in the present state of our knowledge and experience be in the hands of the Executive Government, who should deal from day to day with the actual necessities of the case. He objected altogether to the transition from the discretionary powers of the Privy Council to a rigid system of enactment by statute. But if the time had arrived for a departure from the principle to which he had referred, why should the change apply to the markets of London only, and not to those of the country generally? The noble Lord had not said a single word upon that important portion of the argument; but if there were to be such a transition from executive discretion to the stereotyped provisions of the law, the transition should, at all events, be uniform—not necessarily uniform in its details, but founded upon a comprehensive consideration of the whole circumstances of the kingdom. If this transition were to be made crude and rigid, provisions like those contained in the Bill should not receive the force of law. We had already gained some experience in the working of the system of separate markets. He was not arguing absolutely and I unconditionally against the system; all he said was that that system was so fenced round with doubts and difficulties and evils and inconveniences, that whatever was to be done towards carrying it into effect should be done under the discretion and responsibility of the Executive, and not by an Act of Parliament. Taking the case of the port of Hull, he found that in the year 1867 the working of the separate market system there had been greatly to reduce the import of sheep, lambs, and pigs, and almost to extinguish that of cattle. The importation of sheep and lambs into Hull since the formation of a separate market had fallen from 69,000 head to 9,000; pigs had diminished from 15,000 head to 3,000; cattle from 41,000 head to 15,000, and for the first fraction of the year 1868 the trade had been so reduced that it might be considered to have ceased. That was a very serious 623 matter, which certainly deserved the greatest consideration, supposing that it was not the intention of the Government merely to take the sense of the House upon the subject by taking a division upon going into Committee. Another point which the noble Lord had not referred to in the slightest degree, and to which he wished to draw especial attention, was the question of finance. The contemplated outlay under this Bill amounted to £300,000, which, by compensation and other expenses, would be raised to £500,000. If a large building was to be erected at this vast expense, and if the public was to become a speculator in slaughterhouses, we ought, in the first place, to see clearly whence that £500,000 was to come. An hon. Member asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, whether, in the event of any deficiency arising in the funds necessary for the erection and sustentation of this market, that deficiency was to be supplied out of the Consolidated Fund? and to that question the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied in unequivocal terms that it was not. He himself thereupon ventured to ask the right hon. Gentlemen, in the event of such deficiency arising, in what way it was to be met? but to that question he was not fortunate enough to obtain a reply. It was, however, absolutely necessary that they should have a reply to that question before they proceeded further with this measure. It was impossible that they could authorize the outlay of this large sum of money without taking into consideration, in the first place, the provisions by which the Bill was to be converted from a phantom into a reality. If the Commissioners were not armed with sufficient borrowing powers, the House might find itself in the ridiculous position that, after a prolonged conflict in that House, the Assent of the Crown might be given to a statute which might prove to be an absolute dead letter. He hoped the noble Lord would make some statement upon this part of the question, By another part of the Bill it was provided that the Corporation of the City of London might become the market authorities under the Bill, and might pledge their credit to raise the money necessary for its I purposes; but what precedent was there in existence for appointing authorities in this way without their willingness to act having been previously ascertained? He believed the Corporation of London had withdrawn from the advocacy of the Bill; 624 but even if they had not he could not understand how they could appropriate their general securities for the purposes of the market. The representatives of the City of London were opposed to the Bill, and he could not understand how the Corporation could be said to be in favour of it. In the event of their declining to accept the responsibility of acting as the managers of the market, the Crown was authorized to appoint Commissioners, who were to have power to borrow money for the purposes of the Bill. But he should like to know how—if under such circumstances a deficiency arose—it was possible to avoid that deficiency being made good out of the public purse, and similar demands being made upon it on behalf of the other great ports of the United Kingdom. The deficiency could not be made good at the expense of the ratepayers of the metropolis, who were of opinion that the effect of the Bill would be permanently to raise the price of meat. Mr. Dudley Baxter, who was no mean authority in such matters, was of the same opinion. If the ratepayers of London, then, were not to contribute them, whence were the funds for the maintenance of the market to come? Were they to come from the foreign cattle market itself? At Islington they had only one fixed capital to bear the charge of, and they had got the whole of the tolls, both from British and foreign cattle, for the purpose; but the tolls from British and foreign cattle together did not yet yield a revenue sufficient by £7,000 a year to bear the charge of the Islington market. And now it was proposed to clap on another £500,000 for establishing the proposed new market. That was a state of things which required explanation; and as a body which was bound to give something of solidity to the schemes it adopted, it was necessary that the House should call on the Government to point out to them distinctly the source from which the cost of that market was to be derived. It was impossible to maintain the new market by means of a simple augmentation of the dues. The financial elements of the scheme, then, should be thoroughly sifted, together with that other point which lay at the root of the whole question—namely, the expediency or inexpediency of a transition from an elastic system worked by the Executive Government to a rigid statutory system leaving no room for discretion before they could advantageously consider the provisions of any particular plan.
said, the question before them was whether they should go into Committee on that Bill and consider the difficulties just raised, among others, or whether they should adopt an Amendment which would virtually get rid of the whole matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) told them there were two vital questions, the largest of which was whether they should proceed by way of legislation at all, or should leave the whole of those great and difficult subjects in the hands of the Privy Council. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had carefully avoided giving the slightest opinion on the question, aye or no, whether there ought to he a separate market. Supposing the Privy Council came to the conclusion that there should be a separate market, how was it possible for the Privy Council to carry it out and to deal with all those difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman stated, and which the Select Committee, sitting for no end of time, had attempted to solve? That was almost a conclusive answer to the suggestion that those things should be left altogether to the discretion of the Privy Council. Had the country reason to be satisfied with the power of the Privy Council? What happened when the cattle plague visited this country? They had a Privy Council then, which he dared say doubted, as the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite probably doubted now, whether that disease came from abroad. [Mr. MILNER GIBSON was understood to indicate dissent.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. That was some comfort, at all events. The other right hon. Gentleman was still mute as far as shaking heads went. But the immense majority of the people of this country had no such doubt. And how did they suffer by the want of action and the vacillation of the Privy Council for six or seven months, before Parliament and the voice of the country compelled them to take those measures which they might have taken beforehand? The Privy Council began by proclamation to stamp out the plague, but they had not the heart to go on with it. And why? Because they saw the great expense it would entail; and so they allowed the disease to spread over the country, to the great injury and even the ruin of many persons. They did nothing efficacious until Parliament met. They were now told they ought not to refer to Free Trade at all; but last week the right hon. Member for Ash ton brought up 626 Sir Robert Peel and blew a great Free Trade trumpet. [Mr. MILNER GIBSON indicated dissent.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head again, but he was in the recollection of the House, who would bear him out in saying that the right hon. Gentleman talked a great deal about the reversal of the policy of Sir Robert Peel. When the right hon. Gentleman brought that in, and all that rubbish about farmers' friends and election cries, the impression left on his mind was that the right hon. Gentleman had got so uncommonly bad a case that he had to cover his total want of argument in that way. It was asked if they were not content with the French system, why did they not take the quarantine system and treat beasts as they would do human beings coming from suspected countries? He believed that quarantine would form a far greater impediment to the foreign trade than what was now proposed. What was the French system? The French were threatened as we were, and very much about the same time. What did the French do, and what did our Privy Council, of which the right hon. Gentleman was then a member, do? If he was so fond of the French system, why had he not acted upon it, and so prevented the disease from coming to this country? The right hon. Gentleman boasted that the French system left France with the loss of only forty-five head of cattle; but the French prohibited all foreign cattle from entering their country. They would need green spectacles to look at the fury which the right hon. Gentleman would be in if anybody asked him to prohibit foreign cattle from coming here. Neither of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite had, in his opinion, dealt satisfactorily with the peculiarity of the case which the Bill was intended to meet. The market in Copenhagen-fields had for many years been the central market for the cattle trade, not only of London but of the entire country. The Privy Council, however, had felt it to be their duty to impose restrictions on the going out of cattle from that market, and what had been the result? The whole number of cattle which used to come into the London market previous to the breaking out of the cattle plague amounted to 343,000 a year on an average; last year the number was only 287,000; so that the effect of the Privy Council regulations had been to reduce the supply of cattle in the market by 1,000 a week. Was it likely, if these regulations were to become per- 627 manent, that the supply of meat would increase? But what had been the effect of the system of restriction on the foreign trade. In the first thirteen weeks of 1867 the number of foreign cattle which entered the London market was 26,000, while in the corresponding part of the present year it was only 10,000. It had been stated, and he believed with truth, that the number of cattle slaughtered in the United Kingdom for the consumption of the people ranged between 2,000,000 and 2,500,000 per annum, and that the whole number of foreign cattle which used to be slaughtered was something over 200,000, the number at present being only 150,000 or 160,000. Now, would it, he should like to know, promote the interests of the producer or consumer that restrictions on the movement of 2,000,000 of cattle should be continued, rather than that the proposed conditions should be laid down with respect to the comparatively limited number of foreign cattle which entered our ports? The noble Lord had given the other day a list of ten countries which it had been reported to the Privy Council were infected by the plague last year. These countries were Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Prussia, Russia, and Turkey. Now, if those countries were so infected, what Privy Council regulations could be adopted, he should like to know, which would protect this country from a recurrence of the evils under which we had already suffered? The French had means of getting information as to those infected localities which we did not possess, because, except the comparatively small number which entered by the port of Marseilles, the cattle for the French markets must either walk or be conveyed by railway, and then the places from which they came might be easily ascertained. In this country, however, into which foreign cattle were imported by sea, it was impossible to find out whence they were brought. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) found fault with the present Bill because its operation would be in his opinion limited, There was no good reason, however, for not doing some good because all good could not be effected. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman was that which was used against the reform of the Courts of Chancery, and it was one to which he thought but little weight was to be attached. The right hon. Gentleman would keep us with this danger hanging over us for years, 628 because we cannot deal with the whole question at once. What harm could there be in letting in the cattle of Spain, where cattle plague had never been known to exist? The right hon. Gentleman did not venture to say that the Bill did not proceed in the right direction. It was quite possible that the Bill would not effect a great deal; but at all events it afforded evidence of the wish of the Government to relieve the home trade, in respect to which there was no risk of infection, from restrictions, by the establishment of a separate market for foreign cattle. The infection of the cattle plague was of the most subtle and of the most mysterious nature, for cattle when placed under such circumstances that their seizure by the disease seemed a certainty had often been known to escape altogether, whereas they often took it where it was impossible to trace the means of infection. It was almost impossible to say whether the cattle brought from Rotterdam or other places by sea did not come from infected countries, and therefore it was necessary to take some precautions to prevent the spread of disease in this country.
§ MR. LOWE
said, there was a great deal of justice in the criticisms of his two right hon. Friends near him; but the real question before the House was not whether this Bill applied a remedy in the best possible way, but whether the remedy was one which ought to be applied at all. The simple question was, whether it was advisable to have a second meat market placed on the shore, so that the animals when landed could be slaughtered on the spot. He did not doubt the finance of his right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone); but, at the same time, he felt sure that, if the establishment of such a market were thought desirable, there would be found sufficient ingenuity in the House to supply the requisite money. It was a great pity that the whole scheme of the Government was not before the House; but there was no reason in not doing one thing because they could not do another. His right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton (Mr. Milner Gibson) had imported into this discussion a degree of heat and vehemence which, considering the extreme sweetness of his nature, was hardly to be accounted for, except on the supposition that he had been in the company of that class of persons who were once not thought fit to servo on juries on account of the ferocity which their trade was supposed to engender. His right hon. 629 Friend took every possible objection to the Bill, and yet concluded with a Motion which amounted to a declaration that, though he disliked the thing being done at all, yet be objected to its not being done all at once. The question was, whether the principle of having a separate market for foreign cattle, with compulsory slaughter, was right or not. On behalf of the Cattle Plague Commissioners—whose views the Government had really adopted—he hoped he should be excused for trespassing on the House for a short time. What was the state of things? He believed that the country had lost £6,000,000 by the cattle plague, and it was exposed to enormous risk for the future. They ought not to cherish the belief that because 100 years had elapsed since the last appearance of the cattle plague, the same interval would occur again, The cattle plague was en permanence on the steppes of Russia, and by means of the facilities afforded by railways it was capable of being carried in a very few days from those steppes to ports whence the cattle were exported to England. Every year was likely to increase the danger which now existed. Under these circumstances, the Cattle Plague Commission found that the only protection against this terrible enemy was a system of inspection; and all the evidence they took proved entirely that to lean on inspection was to lean on a broken reed, ntterly worthless. It must be so. It was not in human nature that the inspection of a large number of beasts by a person who had no particular interest in the matter should be otherwise than perfunctory and imperfect. Therefore the Commission sought some other protection, and they found it in enactments such as were proposed by this Bill, which his right hon. Friend told him was an interference with the principles of Free Trade. How did the matter stand at the present moment? There was nothing to prevent any amount of diseased cattle being brought into London. The metropolis was almost defenceless. A cordon was, indeed, drawn around it, which cost for police £16,000 a year; but as long as they allowed foreign cattle to be merely inspected—which could not be relied on at all—diseased cattle from Copenhagen might be introduced into the London market, and driven to be slaughtered in the interior, spreading infection throughout the country. It was said the Privy Council had all the powers that were required, and there need not be a rigid Parliamentary 630 law on the subject. But the condition of the London market, as he had described it, was a permanent one; it was almost at any moment liable to an invasion of the cattle plague, and this permanent condition of things required a permanent remedy. It was not a case for a temporary remedy. It was not desirable to prevent the importation of foreign meat; but it was necessary that measures should be taken to have it slaughtered at the waterside, where every precaution might be taken to prevent infection. They could not say that, absolutely, no infection should come, because that in all cases could not be secured. That was a course of argument which would go to abolish the whole criminal law. But they could say that foreign cattle should be slaughtered on the seashore, and thus prevent the evil of driving foreign cattle through the streets and spreading contagion. This was the object of the Bill—to prevent foreign cattle from coming into contact with English cattle. The present state of things was full of mischief, both to the metropolis and to the country. If he fancied a dairy cow he could not get it; if a calf was born in the metropolis, instead of going into the neighbouring counties to be agisted into a cow, it must be killed. If a farmer sent a beast to the market to be sold for a certain price, and he could not get that price, he must take what he could get. But he was told, if this Bill passed, the price of meat would rise, and beasts would fetch £2 a head more than at present. He was not able to enter into that question, but what he said was this—the butchers of London had found it worth their while to deluge every Member of Parliament with pamphlets, and beset them in every possible way. They had retained very able counsel to recommend their view of the whole question, and he was asked to believe that they were doing all this with a view to reduce the price of meat. He believed they knew very well that on the balance of things this Bill would not make any very great difference in the price of meat, because it was not merely cattle plague, but pleuro-pneumonia, that went so far to raise the price. The question was, what ought they to do with the present state of things? It was permanent; therefore they should have a permanent remedy. They might depend upon it they must submit to some impediment to foreign importations of cattle, or be prepared periodically, at no long intervals, to have the 631 most injurious restraints put on domestic cattle. Therefore, although he had been grievously intimidated by his right hon. Friend, he must say he had heard nothing that proved to him that the Cattle Plague Commission were wrong in their recommendations, and he sincerely hoped the House would give a second reading to this Bill. There were a number of questions that might fairly be considered in Committee; but he did trust the House would not acquiesce in a state of things which would attach a permanent stigma to the metropolis as liable always to be infected with the cattle plague, and having no means of sending cattle down into the country.
said, he hoped he should receive the indulgence of the House while he endeavoured to show the interest which the metropolis had in this matter. It was one of those questions which brought home to the great centres of population how numerically weak they were in that House. Hitherto no one connected with the metropolis had enjoyed the opportunity of being heard. They must watch this Bill most jealously, and sec that the great supply of foreign cattle required by the wants of the metropolis was not cut off. For the consumption of the metropolis no less than 68 per cent of the foreign cattle imported, and 72 per cent of the foreign sheep were required; and of the cattle slaughtered in London it was calculated that 42 per cent of the whole was foreign. The restrictions in foreign trade had seriously interfered with the supply, and if still stronger restrictions were imposed, a still greater diminution must be expected. The experiment now proposed was to be made not at the expense of the agricultural districts, but of London consumers and ratepayers. It was said that the Government wished to try the effect of the system first in the metropolis; but the metropolis had a right to ask the Government how they were going to deal with the other ports afterwards. The notion of the Government evidently was that the door at London was to be shut while the doors at the other ports were to be left open to inspection. The Government permitted Spanish and Portuguese, and soon they would permit Danish cat tie to be landed at all ports of the kingdom, except London; but he wanted to know why the latter City, with its vast population, was to be deprived of its foreign meat in order that the metropolis might continue to be the emporium of the cattle trade of the country. The noble Lord said that if this measure were 632 adopted now other measures would be brought forward next Session; but could the noble Lord guarantee that the new Parliament would be willing to adopt his views upon this subject? The House had had no declaration from Her Majesty's Government as to what their plans were. The large towns interested in this Bill—if it were to be proceeded with, of which he had much doubt, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in his place—would have reason to complain that they could hear nothing as to the policy to be pursued. His right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) supported the Bill as a protection against the cattle plague; but the real object of the Bill was to remove the restrictions on the home trade. It was an insurrection of the agriculturists against their restrictions, and an attempt to have the whole burden placed on the foreign trade. The Commission, of which the right hon. Member for Calne was a Member, recommended that all restrictions placed on the home trade in cattle should be extended to the foreign trade also; but from the evidence taken before the Commission it appeared that the present system of inspection was far from being insufficient. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) said that the system of inspection was never sufficient, and that, therefore, this Bill ought to pass; but Mr. Pell, a considerable authority among agriculturists, in giving his evidence before the Commission, stated that the only objection to the system of inspection was its cumbrous machinery—that was to say, that it did not suit the convenience of the agriculturists. Admitting that it was desirable that the agriculturists should have a central market, easily approachable by railway, that was no reason why it should be situated inside of London, and why the people of London should be deprived of foreign meat. He thought it wrong that 3,000,000 people should be starved in order to preserve the health of 2,500,000 cattle. It was said that the restrictions had prevented home cattle from coming to London; but, instead of a diminution, there had been an increase of home cattle coining to London. He hoped the noble Lord would say, in his reply, whether the same inspection as at; present was to be kept up in the new market or not. If not, there would be increased danger of the cattle plague. The opinion of the Secretary to the Central Chamber of Agriculture was that there ought to be a safety market into which 633 cattle should be poured from all countries, whether infected or not. If there was to be a market of that kind—a market into which diseased cattle would be poured from every country in Europe, without let or hindrance—he should like to know what his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne would say to such a market being established without inspection. Neither France nor Prussia, nor any other country, would throw open its ports to cattle from infected countries; but there was to be a market for them in London, and yet this was called a measure for keeping the cattle plague out of the country. It was evident that if the cattle plague was once fairly established in the metropolitan cattle market, it would be very difficult to get it out again. The most inferior beasts in Europe would be sent to such a market. He defied the Government to assert that they intended to do away with inspection. There was another objection. At present ten days were allowed for the slaughter of foreign cattle, but under the new system cattle were to be allowed to remain as long as the owners liked. The market was to contain 5,000 beasts and 30,000 sheep. Suppose these quantities arrived one week and there was no sale for them, the market next week would be full, and where were the new arrivals to be put? It had been asked why they wanted scientific evidence on that subject. What they wanted it for was to ascertain whether the restrictions proposed by that Bill were as effectual for the prevention of the cattle plague as other restrictions, and not one single medical witness was called before the Select Committee to prove that. On the other hand, there was a host of scientific witnesses to prove the danger of the cattle plague being communicated from that separate market to the home market. The disease was so infectious that if they had it in the one market they would have it in the other. It was impossible to make regulations that would prevent that. The beasts from the home market would be scattered over the whole country, and, coming in contact with other beasts, would thus carry the disease through the kingdom. The effect of the Bill would be that if infection was carried by clothes from one market to the other, then the beasts were to be allowed to circulate freely throughout the country, taking the plague with them. As to the cordon round London to which reference had been made, it had kept the health of the herds and flocks of the country in a better state than it had 634 been for a long time, and had been perfectly effectual for its purpose. The question of slaughter houses had been very much misrepresented. He would say let them be done away with if it were necessary for sanitary purposes, but let it not be done to handicap the foreigner. It could hardly be doubted by anyone that the Bill would tend to diminish the supply of foreign cattle for London. It was absolutely certain that the butcher would go first to the English market, and when he could no longer supply himself there conveniently and cheaply, as a last resource he would go to the foreign cattle market. Would the foreign producers continue to send their cattle to this country on those terms? It had been said that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Milner Gibson) was all for the foreigner, but did not think of the Englishman. He was surprised that such a line of argument should in these days be used. The foreign producer was the friend of the English consumer, and to draw a distinction between the foreign and the home producer was to overlook the fact that this country depended to a great extent on the foreign producer for its supply of the first necessaries of life. It was asked, why not make the foreign cattle market a dead-meat market? But the feeding of London could not be carried on under the circumstances of a dead-meat market. The retail butcher would never be able to go ten miles below London to get his meat. Moreover, what was the course of the foreign cattle trade? In the very months when the dead-meat trade was smallest the foreign cattle trade was largest, and vice versâ. In August there were ten times as many beasts imported as in January, and eleven times as many sheep. July, August, September, and October, were the months in which the foreign cattle chiefly reached this country. On the other hand, there was a certain dead-meat trade in January, February, March, and April, just when the foreign cattle could not arrive here, owing to the geographical circumstances of the countries from which they came. In the hot months they could not have a dead-meat trade. But there being such objections as he had stated to the Bill, had every means been taken, he should like to know, to discover some alternative scheme? He thought not. There were, however, other schemes which might be adopted. They might have a market outside for the transit cattle, while the consuming market should 635 be in the centre of London; or there might be a certain place where there would be a junction of railways, through which the cattle would be allowed to pass. A small market might be established at the riverside for the purpose of receiving the cattle from certain countries where the cattle plague was known to exist. What he so strongly objected to was that London should be debarred from drawing its supplies from Denmark, Portugal, and. Spain, which had never been suspected. Denmark supplied 25 per cent of the whole of the foreign cattle which arrived in this country. Another serious objection to the Bill was that if it were carried into effect, the wharfingers, salesmen, and others whose trade it interfered with must be compensated, but if the House should next year reverse the policy embodied in this Bill it could not make those people refund the money they had received, ["Divide !"] He had no wish to detain the House, but he must be permitted to say a few words on the question of expense as it affected his constituents. Who was to bear the burden of the costly experiment which it was proposed to make? Some hon. Members were careless about what might be done in this matter, because they proposed to throw the whole expense on the metropolis. Was it possible that the citizens of London could look with favour on a scheme under the operation of which they would have to pay for two markets, while one now sufficed? He hoped the House would perceive the unfairness of throwing additional taxation on the metropolis for such a purpose. But it was suggested that the new markets would be self-supporting. Seeing that the one already in existence was not self-supporting, he could not understand how that statement could be maintained. How was this new market to be self-supporting with few cattle when the present market was not self-supporting with much cattle? They could not allow this Bill to pass alone, and yet they had no security that the same statutory regulations would be applied to other ports, though they were asked to incur this enormous expenditure. Were they to make this experiment at the fag end of the Session at the cost of the ratepayers of London and of the metropolis? They would have to incur an expenditure of £500,000, and derange their foreign cattle trade; because foreigners, on reading the speech of the noble Lord the Vice-President of the Council, would assume 636 that it was the policy of England to shut out foreign cattle. Such was the way in which foreign Governments would read the noble Lord's sneers about foreign producers. He hoped the House would pause before they passed this Bill, which was really not a measure for the prevention of the cattle plague, it being admitted even by hon. Gentlemen opposite that at present the inspection was satisfactory. These restrictions on the cattle trade must be shared by all alike, or they would diminish the supply of food. Was it fair to pass this Bill when Government was silent about other ports, and when they had called no scientific witnesses to show that the present system was unsatisfactory?
§ MR. READ
said, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), that although we could not do all we might wish, that was no reason why we should not do all we could. The metropolis must be viewed exceptionally in this matter, because no less than 70 per cent of the cattle imported into England was sent to London, and it was only in the metropolis that foreign cattle, save Spanish and Portuguese, mixed with our home stock. London, he believed, at present enjoyed the privilege of importing cattle not only from Denmark, but from every portion of the globe, and he held in his hand a Return which would show the right hon. Gentleman that, instead of Denmark furnishing a quarter of the whole supply of foreign cattle imported into this country during the three years ending December last, only 23,000 out of 698,000 cattle imported from abroad came from that country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
pointed out the fact that a Return of the cattle imported during the last eight years showed that on the average the imports from Denmark were 25 per cent of the number imported.
§ MR. READ
The right hon. Gentleman had complained that the market would not be ready for two years and a half. Well, considering that markets could not be created by the stroke of a fairy's wand, he did not regard that period as being anything unusual, though he would at the same time remark that if this Bill were rejected it might be three years and a half instead of two years and a half before the market could be completed. Now, in this matter he could not help thinking that the Corporation had acted in a very pitiful and pettish manner. They first said that there could not be any profit from the market, but directly it was urged that the profits, 637 if any should arise, should be devoted to reducing the tolls of the foreign cattle market, they threw up the whole concern. Now, with reference to the Privy Council, he could only say that the Orders of that body had been most vacillating and contradictory. At the first outbreak of the cattle plague in June, 1865, he went to them and implored them to arrest the progress of the disease by preventing the foreign cattle being taken into the country. But the Council either objected to that course or were not strong enough to take it. They sent inspectors into the country to kill the cattle on the different farms, and refused to make any compensation to the owners whose cattle were destroyed, and it was not until the House passed a Bill on the subject, in 1866, that the progress of the disease received any check. That Bill was founded on the Report of the Cattle Plague Commissioners, and those gentlemen stated that to avoid continual outbreaks of the disease certain ports ought to be set aside as ports of debarkation, and cattle there imported killed at the water side. And he would remind the House that those who were then opposed to the system of "stamping out," and who stigmatized the practice as barbarous and retrogressive, were just those who were now opposing this measure. The present system must, at the best, be ineffectual; for in the metropolitan cattle market the cattle imported were allowed to mix with the sheep; and, as there was no restriction on the removal of sheep, the disease could easily be conveyed from one part of the country to another, so that the present system of inspection was a farce, perfectly useless for the purposes intended. Who was to know, too, when the plague broke out in any of the slaughterhouses? The animals diseased would at once be killed, the fact concealed, and the infection might be carried into the country by means of the manure. But with a new cattle market the case would be different. The right hon. Gentleman had accused him of being in favour of relaxing the strictness of the present system of inspection. That was true to this extent. He thought that it ought not to be carried on for twelve hours, that the cattle ought to be allowed to pass into some comfortable lairs close by, and that if one bullock was infected with pleuro-pneumonia, or foot-and-mouth disease, it was not necessary on that account to kill all the remainder. But a vigilant inspection there must undoubtedly be. There would be a resident inspector, who, at any 638 outbreak of the disease, would immediately order the cattle to be killed and the place to be disinfected. He did not for a moment contend that we could by this or any other means secure absolute prevention; but still the plan suggested gave them, he believed, the minimum risk. A complaint had been made that the towns had not been fairly represented on the Committee, whereas, the fact was that out of the Members forming that Committee seven represented counties and seven boroughs; but the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council (Lord Robert Montagu) was in the chair and could only give a casting vote, and the hon. Baronet the Member for Northumberland (Sir Matthew Ridley) was so seriously ill that he could not attend. So in the divisions there generally appeared the names of seven borough and only five county members. The Government had been taunted with not supporting the Bill with veterinary evidence, whereas it was agreed by all parties to put in the scientific evidence taken before the Cattle Plague Commissioners and the Trade in Animals Committee and not call any veterinary witnesses. But the opponents disregarded this agreement, and Professor Spooner was examined by the opponents, as were also several veterinary surgeons. And he would ground his argument for the Bill on the evidence of the latter gentlemen, who maintained that the present restrictions, to be of any service, ought to be more stringent. We were told we could safely rely on the precaution of foreign governments and our own inspectors; but these veterinaries were expected to detect incubating diseases, whereas after two years' study some learned professors did not know the cattle plague when they saw it. He appealed to the House, therefore, not to take into consideration the interests of any particular class, or of any particular individuals, but to do all they could to keep these diseases out of the country; an attempt which, if successful, would result in greatly reducing the price paid for meat.
said, he desired to remind the House that the whole country, and not the metropolis alone, was interested in a proposal which was founded upon the principle of dealing with foreign cattle, however healthy, in a different manner from the way in which other cattle were dealt with. They were going to legislate in a more permanent form than by Act of Parliament, because by building this market they were about to lay down 639 for all time to come that they were to deal in a certain way with foreign cattle. The noble Lord who introduced the Bill sought to apply to the metropolis the same restrictions as had been applied to other ports; but he (Mr. Headlam) entirely disagreed with the noble Lord as to the effect of those restrictions. Before the restrictions were imposed, in the town of New-castle-upon-Tyne, which he represented, there had been a large trade in the importation of cattle from Denmark, but though no cattle plague existed in Denmark, the trade had now been strangled, and this had caused a great interference with the supply of the necessaries and luxuries of life to his constituents. A similar result had ensued at Southampton.
§ MR. AYRTON
(who spoke amidst loud cries of "Divide!") said, that in the course of the debate, which had lasted two days, certain questions of general policy had been raised, and yet no Member of the Cabinet had risen to express the views of the Government with regard to them. Under these circumstances the adjournment of the debate was the only course which could be adopted. He was not one of those who were against the agricultural party; and the noble Lord who introduced this measure said that he (Mr. Ayrton) was the father of the Bill. He certainly had a right to be heard, but he wished to hear a Member of the Cabinet, no Member of which had given an opinion on this subject, nor was any Cabinet Minister present.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Headlam.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 224: Majority 145.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. COGAN
said, he thought the discussion and the numbers which had just been announced would show plainly to the country that this Select Committee, which; sat for nine weeks on this Bill, came to the proper conclusion when they reported in; its favour. He did not believe the effect of the measure would be to enhance the price of meat to the consumer in the metropolis. The importation of foreign cattle must be placed on a sounder and less capricious footing than at present, or the 640 supply of foreign cattle would be put a stop to altogether. Those who supported this Bill had been called Protectionists and opponents of Free Trade; but he was glad now to learn from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) that that charge was now repudiated. He regretted the means which had been resorted to in order to procrastinate the debate and prevent the passing of the Bill.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.